The Corner

Diversitygate

It is really amazing that Elizabeth Warren, in Orwellian fashion, continues to say, “I’m proud of my Native American heritage” after being caught in a blatant deception, in which even her theoretical claim of being a Native American on the dubious basis of a great-great-great grandparent was not substantiated. I guess some of us are on a different planet, because both Warren and Harvard University seem to have been unethical at best and unlawful at worst — if she or anyone from the Law School (no less!) signed forms or affidavits attesting to Warren’s Native American status in accordance with federal affirmative action/diversity guidelines. Fabricating an entire identity seems to me right up there with plagiarism, and yet neither Harvard nor Warren is the least bit troubled by the fact that at the heart of this scandal is an outright lie, both spoken and written. How many Harvard Law Schools or Elizabeth Warrens are there out there in academia, that have been untruthful in assessing their diversity profiles, and is that the reason for the complete silence on this matter from various professional academic and scholarly associations?

This scandal seems every bit as serious as those surrounding Michael A. Bellesiles or Greg Mortenson, in that a university or publisher cannot function without some degree of trust and fidelity. Just as scholars and editors must assume that research is professionally conducted and truthful, so too must universities and professors in good faith follow accepted norms. But in this case, both Harvard and Warren displayed a degree of cynicism that is repellent, both in the attempt to pass off a 1/32nd claim, which itself was never substantiated, as proof of minority status and in the apparent idea that to do so was simply okay in contemporary academia’s diversity culture. And now? Rather than show some shame, the falsity is treated as truth without repercussions.

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